Andre is a prolific writer in additon to his curating skills.
“Norma Kamali has come up with so many designs that she can only be described as a great American pioneer in fashion. While her aesthetic has always been grounded in sophistication, it's also based on the unorthodox juxtapositions of technique and material. She has transformed recycled army surplus parachute silk and down sleeping bag into cocoons of feminity. She reinvigorated the whole idea of glamour, updating Adrian's peplum suit and shoulder pads for her clients and fans, and in the process ignited the rage for vintage. She was the first to recreate the glamorous swimsuit, which has remained so influential in the marketplace. The way Coco Chanel took men's underwear jersey and made it a staple for women, Kamali made industrial grade gym sweatshirt fabrics into a ground-breaking collection in 1980 that practically launched the leisurewear revolution. And there is no image more memorable than Raquel Welch in a great Kamali siren dress, or Paloma Picasso in a Kamali suit. Many of her shapes of the past three decades remain so contemporary, and at the same time, so timeless, that she still sells them in her shop. And you see her sleeping bag coats, which were a uniform in the '70s, on the streets every winter.
She's always been an independent, in both fashion and in retailing. Her first shop on East 53rd Street featured lizard and leather, then she moved it to Madison avenue in 1974, and started attracting society girls. Four years later, she brought cutting-edge style to shopping with the launch of OMO. And she was one of the first designers to sell fashion on the internet. In her way of thinking and in her work always there is a streak of something imaginative and quite remarkable. She doesn't look to anyone, and she imitates no one but herself. It's always about her style. To me, she is America's Elsa Schiaparelli.”
By Andre Leon Talley
A HISTORY OF THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
CURATED BY ANDRE LEON TALLEY